BREAKING: Syria Reports First Case of COVID-19, UOSSM Expects Parabolic Jump In Cases

PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 24, 2020
BREAKING: Syria Reports First Case of COVID-19, UOSSM Expects Parabolic Jump In Cases
Dallas, Texas- This weekend the Syrian Government reported their first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Damascus (not including Northern Syria). UOSSM projects a significantly higher number of cases that have gone unreported.  Over 80% of the medical infrastructure in Syria is operating at a limited capacity and COVID-19 testing kits are extremely inaccessible. 
 
UOSSM predicts a parabolic jump of cases in North Western Syria in the next two weeks. The medical system definitively does not have the capacity to cope with the influx. The UN reports that there are 4,178,480 people in North Western Syria, living in densely populated conditions with little access to healthcare. In Idlib (pop. 3.5+ million) there are 201 ICU beds and only 95 ventilators. 100% of the ventilators are currently in use and not available to treat COVID-19 patients. In North Western Syria there is currently only one PCR Lab. In the past 12 months alone, 85 medical facilities have been attacked and most are currently not functional.  The medical infrastructure cannot handle the existing population needs let alone a wide spread pandemic. Medical staff suffer from a shortage of masks, gloves, gowns, disinfectant, thermal scanners and other medical supplies. 
Years of war and malnutrition have left many people’s immune systems compromised and the entire population susceptible to drastically higher mortality rates. It is predicted that the transmission rates will be dramatically higher than global averages due to densely populated IDP camps and multiple families living in the same dwelling. 
 
Dr. Khaula Sawah, Vice President of UOSSM USA said, “ Even though there is only one confirmed case this does not reflect the actual number of active cases in Syria. There have been reports of people who are sick with symptoms similar to COVID-19 however there is very limited laboratory diagnostic capacity to confirm. According to WHO and based on the current epidemiological situation in the region with the rapid spread of cases in neighboring countries, including Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq, WHO considers the overall risk for Syria to be very high. Considering the disrupted and fragile health system, the risk of the spread of diseases is high in Aleppo and Idleb governorates. 
It is terrifying to think about what will happen if this spreads to areas of displacement, as millions are living in densely populated areas with no option for social distancing, limited access to soap, clean water, medical supplies, and a major shortage of ICU beds and ventilators. I fear the death toll could be catastrophic.”
 
UOSSM 's response and preparedness plan for Covid-19 as follows:
 
  • UOSSM’s mobile clinics have made it a top priority to visit communities and educate the population on social distancing, hygiene practices and steps if people are symptomatic. 
  • UOSSM has nurse/staff in front of medical facilities to screen patients and direct them to the right area. 
  • UOSSM has asked all health workers to attend the WHO online course “Introduction to Emerging Respiratory Viruses, Including Novel Coronavirus”.
  • UOSSM’s technical team has trained all health workers in UOSSM PHC centers on the detection of suspected cases, handling of cases, referral of cases, and reporting.
  • UOSSM is working in close collaboration with the Idlib Health Directorate to implement a ‘COVID-19 Response Plan’. A few days ago, the Idlib Health Directorate announced the opening of an epidemic surveillance laboratory to carry out PCR tests to identify COVID-19 (testing kits currently unavailable).

COVID-19 Imminent Threat in Syria

PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 13, 2020
BREAKING: COVID- 19 Imminent Threat in Syria
Dallas, Texas- The global spread of COVID-19 has created an imminent epidemiological threat to Syria and refugees in surrounding countries. Cases have been reported in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Israel and Turkey. North Western Syria is particularly vulnerable given a population of close to 4 million people, including 1 million IDPs, packed into densely populated areas. Years of war and malnutrition have left many people’s immune systems compromised and the entire population susceptible to drastically higher mortality rates. It is predicted that the transmission rates will be dramatically higher than global averages due to densely populated internally displaced persons (IDP) camps and multiple families living in the same dwelling.
 
In the past 12 months alone, 85 medical facilities have been attacked and most are currently not functional.  The medical infrastructure cannot handle the existing population needs let alone a wide spread pandemic. The medical system suffers from a shortage of masks, gloves, gowns, disinfectant, thermal scanners and other medical supplies. 
 
UOSSM calls on the international community to immediately provide personal protective equipment, thermal scanners, quarantine units and lab testing kits/ capacity to prevent this humanitarian catastrophe. 
Dr. Khaula Sawah, Vice President of UOSSM USA said, “Protective measures must be taken to prevent a major outbreak of the Coronavirus in areas of displacement. People are living in densely populated areas and there is no option of social distancing for many. Medical facilities are in desperate need of medical supplies and testing equipment. We urge the international community to ensure that families in areas of displacement are protected to prevent another humanitarian catastrophe.”
 
UOSSM has developed a preparedness plan for Covid-19 as follows:
 
• UOSSM developed guidelines based on WHO guidelines and publications, which cover identification of the disease and how to manage the suspected cases.
• The guideline was distributed in all UOSSM PHC centers.
• UOSSM asked all health workers to attend the WHO online course “Introduction to emerging respiratory viruses, including novel coronavirus”.
• UOSSM technical field team will provide health workers in all health facilities with technical support with regards to the coronavirus.
• UOSSM will prepare IEC, posters and brochures about the virus and hygiene. They will be distributed in PHC centers.
• UOSSM’s technical team will organize a meeting with all health workers in UOSSM PHC centers in order to train them on the detection of suspected cases, handling of cases, referral of cases, and reporting.
 
UOSSM is coordinating closely with the WHO and other partners to manage this situation as it develops. 
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BREAKING: 10 Schools and Hospital Bombed in Idlib, Syria Today, Killing Children & Teachers

On February 25, 10 schools (including two preschools) and the Idlib Central Hospital were hit by airstrikes and ground attacks in Idlib, Syria. Seven schools were in Idlib city, two in Maaret Tamsrin and one in Darat Izza. At least 21 civilians were killed including nine children and three teachers. 81 civilians were severely injured including 40 children and women. An unexploded rocket also landed in a preschool. The death toll is expected to rise. The attack on Idlib Central Hospital injured three nurses and one doctor, and heavily damaged the facility. The hospital, which served 11,500 patients monthly, was forced to shut down given the safety risks posed by targeted airstrikes. Please click here to read the full press release.

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BREAKING: 500,000 Children Displaced in Idlib, 7 Children Dead From Cold In Past Month, Worst Since Start of War

The intense military campaign in North Western Syria has displaced over 900,000 people since December, including an estimated 500,000 children. Freezing weather and a lack of adequate shelter have killed seven children, including one 7 month old child.  From February 1-16, at least 35 children were killed by airstrikes and ground based attacks in North Western Syria. 
 
Since December, 72 hospitals, primary healthcare centers, medical facilities and mobile clinics have suspended operations because of targeted airstrikes impacting hundreds of thousands of civilians. This impacts 200 doctors, 300 nurses and 50 midwives. In Atareb and Idlib city, maternal and childcare treatments have stopped functioning.  For the few facilities that are operational, staff are working 18 hour days and are running critically low on medical supplies and medicines. Please click here to read the full press release.
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BREAKING: Two Hospitals Bombed in Aleppo, Syria Including Maternity Hospital; Last in Western Aleppo

At approximately 11:55 am Damascus time on February 17, two hospitals were hit by airstrikes in Darat Izza, Aleppo in Syria.  The Al Kinana Hospital in Darat Izza was hit by airstrikes and sustained significant damage. The Al Fardous Maternity & Children’s Hospital in Darat Izza was also hit by an airstrike and sustained significant damage. Two staff were injured and no fatalities were reported. Al Fardous Hospital supported a population of more than 300,000 people.  The two hospitals were the last operational hospitals in Western Aleppo. Since April 2019, there have been at least 78 attacks on medical facilities in Syria. 
 
In the last five days, over 250,000 people have been newly displaced by violence and over 900,000 people have been displaced since December, of which, 75% are women and children. The World Food Program, which thousands of people depend on, was not able to complete food deliveries this week because of the escalated violence. Please click here to read the full press release.
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BREAKING: Three Medical Staff Killed Including UOSSM Driver in Targeted Attack on Ambulance in Idlib, Syria

Three medical staff were killed in a targeted attack on an ambulance on February 6, 2020 at 8 pm Damascus time, as they were headed to provide emergency services to victims of airstrikes in Idlib City. Abdul Rahman Hilal, a UOSSM driver was among those killed as he was on his way to provide life saving services. At least three other civilians were killed in the attack and six were wounded. Please click here to read the full  press release.

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BREAKING: Four Medical Facilities Attacked Within 24 Hours in Idlib, Syria, Exodus Continues

Four medical facilities were attacked within 24 hours in Idlib, Syria further crippling a devastated health care system in Idlib. Today, at 5:40 pm Damascus time Al Hikma Hospital in Taftanaz Idlib was targeted by a barrel bomb 50 meters from the hospital causing damage and putting the hospital out of service. No casualties were reported. The hospital, supported by UOSSM, was operating on an emergency only basis and provided services to over 4800 patients in January.
Today, at 11:35 am Damascus time, Al Nour Hospital in Taftanaz was damaged from bombings around 300 meters away. The hospital sustained minor damages and was put out of service. The same hospital was damaged on Tuesday at 12:25 am Damascus time, by an indirect attack. Please click here to read the full press release.
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BREAKING: Hospital Bombed, 80K Displaced in 48 hours, Hyperinflation in Syria

On January 29, 2020 at 22:40 Damascus time, multiple airstrikes hit Al Shami Surgical Hospital in Ariha, Idlib injuring four nurses, the director of the facility and an administrator (in critical condition).  At least six people were killed as they waited outside the hospital.The hospital was heavily damaged and put out of service. Since April 2019, there have been at least 74 attacks on medical facilities.  In the past 48 hours, over 80,000 civilians have been displaced from Ariha and Saraqeb, fleeing heavy airstrikes on civilian areas.  Since January 1, at least 138 civilians have been killed.

According to OHCHR monitoring, from January 15 to 23, OCHR confirmed incidents in which at least 81 civilians including 13 women, 14 girls and 20 boys were killed as a result of airstrikes and ground operations. Of these, eight civilians including four women and two boys were killed in Aleppo city and 44 civilians including seven women, 13 girls and 11 boys were killed in western rural Aleppo alone – more than 50% of the total.
From December 1, 2019 to January 27, 2020, the UN reported nearly 390,000 people were displaced. Given the challenges in collecting data in active conflict, UOSSM estimates the number of internally displaced to be significantly higher. Roughly 80% were women and children, and were displaced mostly from large population centers such as Saraqeb and Maarat Al Nouman, as well as smaller towns and villages in southern Idlib. Many have been displaced multiple times, increasing their vulnerability and inability to cope.

Please click here to read the full press release.

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BREAKING: Aid Agency Warns Of Humanitarian Disaster; 35 Killed Yesterday By Airstrikes In Syria

UOSSM denounces the airstrikes on civilian areas of Idlib and Aleppo yesterday, January 21, within the de-escalation zone. The attack killed at least 35 civilians and injured countless more. Today, the airstrikes continued leveling areas of Maarat Al Nouman and Aleppo. In the past 10 days, 73 civilians were killed including 27 children and at least 11,700 families have been displaced. Please click here to read the full press release.

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BREAKING: Crowded Market Hit By Airstrike in Idlib City, Syria; 19 Dead, 65 Injured

On January 15 at 2:06 pm Damascus time, a massive airstrike hit the crowded Al-Hal Market in Idlib City, Syria killing at least 19 and injuring at least 65 civilians, including many women and children. This new military campaign on Idlib City, which started last week, poses the greatest threat to millions of civilians since the start of the conflict. 
Last year, the UN counted 82 attacks on medical centers, leaving the medical infrastructure decimated in Idlib and unable to handle another escalation of violence.  The winter weather in Idlib is currently near freezing temperatures and rainy, exposing hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people to the harsh conditions without adequate shelter. Please click here to read the full press release. 
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